Remotely Piloted Cargo Flights Explored By The U.S. Air Force: A Rich Report Exclusive
It has commissioned Reliable Robotics to investigate the possibility of remotely piloting large military transport aircraft for cargo operations using flight automation technology. A feasibility study will be prepared by the company under a contract announced on February 8.
It is interested in leveraging technology now being developed for commercial aircraft to speed up and frequency its missions worldwide. In addition to taxiing, taking off, cruising, and landing, the California-based company is attempting to get FAA approval for converting existing utility aircraft, such as Textron's Cessna Caravan.
In addition to precise navigation, Reliable Robotics' technology will provide sophisticated flight-planning capabilities and robust controls for managing operations, as well as sophisticated flight-planning capabilities. Remotely piloted flights, according to the report, will reduce the likelihood of fatal accidents caused by controlled flight into terrain or loss of control.
"The US Air Force is interested in Reliable Robotics for their innovative approach to automating legacy aircraft, in addition to their effectiveness in supporting warfighters in contested logistics," explained USAF Colonel Sean McClune. Using this technology, the U.S. government will be able to solve the need for short- to medium-range point-to-point logistics without the need to produce new aircraft, ensuring critical logistics can reach all regions at a rapid pace and scale.”
As part of this project, the USAF's Headquarters Air Force Mobility Functional Integration Team will be involved. As part of its role in the Joint Warfighting Concept, it will examine how the new capability might fill gaps in logistics operations. Among the aircraft operated by the service are the C-17 Globemaster and the C-5 Super Galaxy, which are high-capacity transports.
A retired USAF major general and senior vice president of Reliable Robotics' government solutions, David O'Brien says other branches of the military can adopt increased automation in their fleets. He told Rich Report that this is an extension of the work that Reliable Robotics has been doing with the USAF already. "The value this brings to Air Force commanders is greater mission utility, and higher tempos at a lower operational footprint."
We are working with Reliable Robotics to turn Cessna Caravans into remotely piloted cargo aircraft.
Reliable Robotics' remotely operated system is based on the advanced navigation and autoflight system certified by the FAA in August 2022. A pilot has been testing the technology in the Albuquerque area under the company's Part 135 operator's certificate.
ASL Aviation Holdings, a European-based airline group, announced a partnership with Reliable Robotics in December to explore remotely operated aircraft opportunities. In the beginning, the companies will convert twin-turboprop freighters.